The Beltones took the International Championships of Collegiate A Cappella quarterfinals by storm Jan. 21 at University of Tennessee Knoxville, winning an award for best choreography and first place overall.
“This year, we decided to focus on some of the social problems in our world. We open with a mashup of ‘24K Magic’ by Bruno Mars and ‘Greedy’ by Ariana Grande, followed by ‘Freedom’ by Beyonce,” said Beltones Vice President Adriel Morton. “Our ballad is a mashup of ‘Inside’ by Kirk Whalum and ‘Inside/Drown’ by Chance the Rapper. The closer to our set is ‘Something Beautiful’ by Tori Kelly. Our idea is that we address greed, racial tensions and inner strength in a way that encourages the audience that they can overcome.”
This is the second time the Beltones have ever placed first at quarterfinals. This win required the group to work tremendously hard.
“We’ve been preparing for the ICCA competition since the middle of last semester,” said Morton. “We spend about six hours in rehearsal every week and occasionally even more than that. We arrange all of our own music and choreograph the set, so we are really able to make the set unique and tailored to the Beltones’ sound.”
After months of rehearsal, the group was able to spend its performance time connecting with the audience.
“Really our main thing was to go out and not worry about how we placed or think about the outcome,” said Beltones member Jacob Metoyer. “We tried to just focus on the the message we wanted to send the audience, and I think that’s what put us ahead of everyone else. We made it a focal point to make the audience feel something.”
Part of this was achieved through choreography arranged by the Beltones members themselves.
“I think it helped that everything we did was in-house. Carter Harrell and myself arranged all of the music and we direct the group, and Mikaela Clark and Bryce Sherlow created all the choreography,” said Music Director Tyra Thompson. “This helped us to make a set that was personal to our group, and by keeping everything in-house, we were able to play to our strengths as a group.”
After its victory, the group is closer than ever.
“The most important thing to us in the Beltones is having strong relationships with each other,” said Morton. “We truly are a family, and we believe that those relationships are the foundation of good music. Because of that trust, we are able to invest in our music very honestly. That is something we take into account when auditioning. People’s hearts and passion are crucial to being a Beltone.”
The Beltones will compete again at semifinals at the University of Georgia on March 11.
Photo courtesy of the Beltones.